I have a little doubt if this structure is actually correct or not. I think the more standard alternative is to say:

Did you go to school or stay at home?

However, they do not feel quite the same to me. I cannot exactly pinpoint the difference, but to me, it feels like the second one suggests a more inconsequential choice between going to school or staying at home. On the contrary, the first one sounds like the default option is to go to school but it is also possible for people to stay home for reasons such as being sick.

Can someone give me some perspective on the grammatical correctness of these two structures and any difference in their meanings?

1 Answer 1


Your thoughts are correct - "Did you go to school or stay at home" is how you would typically structure that question. However, I certainly wouldn't assign any difference in meaning between the two, and I suspect most other people wouldn't either. The "Did you go to school or you stayed at home?" structure is just not correct, and I would assume that the person saying it meant to convey the meaning of the standard form.

The main reason that it sounds weird is because it's using mixed tenses. "You stayed at home" uses the past tense, versus the present tense of "you stay at home" and "you go to school". You know that the event happened in the past due to the past simple tense Did [...]?, rather than a present tense of the form "Are you going to school or staying at home", or future tense of "Will you go to school or stay at home?".

To use a past tense (e.g., "stayed") in a question like that, you'd be asking something like "Have you gone to school or stayed at home?", which does carry a slightly different meaning - it implies a much more recent occurrence of before the school day has even concluded, whereas the other form could be any time after the fact (e.g., "I had a really bad cough last month", "Did you go to school [...]?").

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    I would dispute that it is a question of tense. It's just that 'did you' is omitted from the second option. "Did you go to school or [did you] stay at home?" Commented Jul 3, 2020 at 8:51

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